Breakfast sandwiches, Eggs Benedict and Florentine, endless pasta dishes, pizza, salads, hash, crepes—we can't think of many things that wouldn't be brilliant with a poached egg on top. Just thinking of slicing into that soft, delicate white to release a river of oozing yolk has us weak at the knees.
The only problem? Poached eggs can be notoriously difficult to pull off at home. But fear not—we've got a surefire method to poach perfectly firm, yet delicate eggs every time.
First, heat about one inch of water in a saucepan. Add in a teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of plain, white vinegar. While the water heats up, crack one very cold egg into a small ramekin. (Fresh eggs tend to work best.)
When the water begins to simmer, slowly stir it in circles with the handle of a slotted spoon or spatula. Once you've got the water spinning in a vortex, remove the spoon and gently place the egg into the center of the whirlpool.
Cover the pan and wait for 5 minutes. The Food Network's Alton Brown says leaving the egg undisturbed during this time is crucial. When the timer goes off, remove your poached egg with the slotted spoon and serve immediately.
Still not quite able to master the execution? Try Julia Child's famous trick for poaching eggs. If you hate those weird wisps of egg whites that pull away from the rest of the egg, this tip might be just what you need.
The grand-dame of cooking recommended boiling the whole egg—shell and all—in water for 10 seconds before poaching. First, poke a tiny hole in the shell of the egg with a pin (this releases any air in the egg, and keeps it from exploding in the water). Then, using a slotted spoon, lower the egg into boiling water and hold it there for 10 seconds. Remove the egg, allow it to cool for 10 more seconds, and crack it into the gently simmering water. Those 10 seconds of boiling will help it retain its shape, so the poached egg won't have jagged edges.
Here's to your burgeoning cooking skills—and that flawless plate of Eggs Benedict.
Photo credit: Premshree Pillai via Flickr